Necessary Roughness creators/executive producers Elizabeth Kruger and Craig Shapiro have joined CBS’ sci-fi summer drama series Extant as executive producers and new showrunners. The two will work closely with Extant creator/executive producer Mickey Fisher. Also joining the CBS TV Studios/Amblin series’ executive producer ranks for Season 2 is star Halle Berry, who is being upped from co-executive producer.
Greg Walker, who served as executive producer/showrunner on Extant‘s first season, has left and is focusing on cable development. He has reteamed with Extant producer Amblin TV for The Fear, a drama based on the 2012 British miniseries about a crime boss-turned-entrepreneur, which is set at Showtime. Nick Pileggi is writing and executive producing, with Walker serving as ep/showrunner.
Extant marks the sci-fi drama debut for married writing team Kruger and Shapiro, who have gravitated toward more female-oriented fare, most recently executive producer/running the writers room of Bravo’s Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce. It was not by design — “We found ourselves down the romantic comedy lane,” Kruger says, after their feature script Sports Widow got Reese Witherspoon attached more than a decade ago. The two got to mix their yin-and-yang dynamic on USA’s Necessary Roughness, which had a strong female lead and blended romantic and sports storylines (ironically, Shapiro wrote some of the show’s most romantic scenes, while Kruger unearthed many of the sports topics tackled on the series about a sports therapist.)
“We’ve wanted to do a sci-fi show forever,” said Kruger, who admits her husband is a “huge sci-fi geek.” Extant combines two of the duo’s passions: sci-fi and a strong female lead, astronaut Molly Woods, played by Berry.
The two are joining Extant as the series is undergoing a creative change in direction. In Season 2, Woods discovers that she has unwittingly put the human race on a path to destruction and that she and a mysterious stranger (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) might be the only hope for survival. Because of the show’s new focus on Molly’s efforts to track down her alien son who is threatening humanity, Extant is undergoing casting changes, with only three Season 1 cast members returning as regulars: Berry; Pierce Gagnon, who plays Molly’s android son; and Grace Gummer, who plays an assistant on the Humanichs Project. New cast additions include regular Morgan and recurring Tyler Hilton, David Morrissey and Kiersey Clemons.
When Kruger and Shapiro opened Extant‘s Season 2 writers room in November, the network already had made some creative decisions after the end of the first season. But the casting changes were not locked in until the writers had mapped out Season 2 based on “what the most interesting story we can tell is,” Shapiro said, with the strength of the plot lines dictating what characters should continue.
Kruger and Shapiro’s pedigree will shine through in Season 2, which Kruger said will be “a lot more soapy.” “Sci-fi is all about people, and in a moment of desperation, people find love because every day is about life and death.”
The duo point to Syfy’s cult classic Battlestar Galactica as a benchmark of how they want to tackle a situation in the near future where “the fate of the human race hangs in the balance.” “We are treading in the same territory, trying to look at moral and ethical issues, like technology and how it can get out of control,” Kruger said. “This is a show that has an opportunity for greatness.”
Extant, whose Season 2 started production on Tuesday, is executive produced by Kruger, Shapiron, Fisher, Berry, Steven Spielberg, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank and Brooklyn Weaver. Berry’s producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas has been named co-executive producer.
Kruger and Shapiro’s series credits also include ABC’s Pan Am and CBS’ Miami Medical. They are with UTA and Madhouse.